Daily brief: Deadly blasts hit Lahore shrine

Wonk watch: Antonio Giustozzi’s report on issues and prospects for negotiating with the Taliban (TCF). Editor’s note: the daily brief will be off on Monday, July 5. Happy Independence day! Tragedy in Lahore More than 40 people were killed and 175 injured late last night in Lahore when at least two young suicide bombers attacked ...

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Wonk watch: Antonio Giustozzi's report on issues and prospects for negotiating with the Taliban (TCF). Editor's note: the daily brief will be off on Monday, July 5. Happy Independence day!

Tragedy in Lahore

More than 40 people were killed and 175 injured late last night in Lahore when at least two young suicide bombers attacked the Sufi shrine, Data Darbar, targeting worshipers of Lahore's patron saint, Data Ganj Bukhsh (FT, AP, AFP, Reuters, Geo, Daily Times, ET, The News, CNN). The attacks occurred at the shrine's busiest time, after a Sufi ceremony of singing and prayers (AJE, NYT, WSJ).

There have been no claims of responsibility yet, though several Pakistanis interviewed by the AP blamed the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the minority Ahmadi sect; the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has denied involvement (AP, Dawn). TTP spokesman Azam Tariq claimed, "You know we do not attack public places... We only attack police, army and other security personnel." Thousands of Pakistanis protested in the streets of Lahore today, calling for Punjabi government action against militancy and the resignation of some Punjabi officials (Geo, Reuters).

Wonk watch: Antonio Giustozzi’s report on issues and prospects for negotiating with the Taliban (TCF). Editor’s note: the daily brief will be off on Monday, July 5. Happy Independence day!

Tragedy in Lahore

More than 40 people were killed and 175 injured late last night in Lahore when at least two young suicide bombers attacked the Sufi shrine, Data Darbar, targeting worshipers of Lahore’s patron saint, Data Ganj Bukhsh (FT, AP, AFP, Reuters, Geo, Daily Times, ET, The News, CNN). The attacks occurred at the shrine’s busiest time, after a Sufi ceremony of singing and prayers (AJE, NYT, WSJ).

There have been no claims of responsibility yet, though several Pakistanis interviewed by the AP blamed the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the minority Ahmadi sect; the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has denied involvement (AP, Dawn). TTP spokesman Azam Tariq claimed, "You know we do not attack public places… We only attack police, army and other security personnel." Thousands of Pakistanis protested in the streets of Lahore today, calling for Punjabi government action against militancy and the resignation of some Punjabi officials (Geo, Reuters).

Ten militants were killed yesterday in the northwest tribal agency of Kurram when rival groups led by local militant commanders Mullah Toofan and Adnan Afridi clashed, using missiles, mortar guns, and automatic weapons (Dawn). Many insurgents are believed to have fled to Kurram following a Pakistani military operation in nearby Orakzai.

A bloody morning

In another coordinated suicide bombing, two Taliban attackers detonated explosives around 3:30am local time outside a building used by Development Alternatives Inc., a DC-based consulting company on contract with USAID in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province (AP, Pajhwok, AFP, NYT, BBC). At least five other attackers then ran inside the building, where they were killed in a six hour gun battle with Afghan security forces; a German security guard, an Afghan guard, an Afghan cop, and a Briton and a Filipino were reportedly killed (Reuters).

Gen. David Petraeus, the new top commander in Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul earlier today, a day after the House of Representatives approved the Obama administration’s request for $33 billion in funding to support the 30,000 troop surge (Reuters, Reuters). Gen. Petraeus reportedly called Afghan President Hamid Karzai and discussed a plan intended to woo Taliban footsoldiers to renounce the insurgency, which Karzai has recently approved (NYT). The plan, however, does not seem to include many "concrete incentives specifically aimed at individual fighters."

A senior U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan has restricted the use of Humvees outside military bases, where they have been particularly vulnerable to IED attacks (CNN). And ABC adds its assessment of the campaign in Marjah, writing that the town is a "work in progress, the outcome of which is still in question" (ABC).

Resource: PBS’ Gwen Ifill interviews Amb. Richard Holbrooke, special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan (PBS).

Making connections

The AP reports that a top al-Qaeda leader who is in the running to become the terrorist group’s next head of external operations, Adnan Shukrijumah, allegedly met with one of the men involved in Najibullah Zazi’s plot to attack targets in New York last fall, in a training camp in Pakistan’s tribal regions (AP). Zarein Ahmedzay has pleaded guilty and admitted to planning to detonate explosives on the subway during rush hour; authorities believe Zazi and co-conspirator Adis Medunjanin may have also met with Shukrijumah, a 34 year old Saudi who spent time in Brooklyn in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and attended community college in Florida (NYT).

The end of an era

On Wednesday night, the popular, enduring bar in Afghanistan’s capital, ‘Casablanca Rick’s Bar of Kabul,’ served its last drink, as the U.N. guesthouse has fallen on hard times (Wash Post). Abdul Hamid, "Afghanistan’s unofficial dean of bartending," reminisced about his two-plus decades of experience working at the bar, commenting, "You know those foreigners. They like to enjoy their drinks."

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